548 F.2d 782 (9th Cir. 1976), 75-1317, United States v. Ryan

Docket Nº:75-1317, 75-1314 and 75-1313.
Citation:548 F.2d 782
Party Name:UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. James G. RYAN, Defendant-Appellant. UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Adrian WILSON, Defendant-Appellant. UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Bernard ZELDIN, Defendant-Appellant.
Case Date:May 24, 1976
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

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548 F.2d 782 (9th Cir. 1976)

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,


James G. RYAN, Defendant-Appellant.

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,


Adrian WILSON, Defendant-Appellant.

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,


Bernard ZELDIN, Defendant-Appellant.

Nos. 75-1317, 75-1314 and 75-1313.

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

May 24, 1976

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Rehearing Denied in No. 75-1313 June 28, 1976.

Certiorari Denied Nov. 8, 1976.

As Amended Nov. 30, 1976.

See 97 S.Ct. 354.

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Godfrey Isaac (argued), Beverly Hills, Cal., for defendant-appellant in No. 75-1313.

John C. Bartlett (argued), Reno, Nev., for defendant-appellant in No. 75-1314.

Harry E. Claiborne (argued), Las Vagas, Nev., for defendant-appellant in No. 75-1317.

Lawrence Semenza, U. S. Atty. (argued), Reno, Nev., and Richard A. Wright, Asst. U. S. Atty. (argued), Las Vegas, Nev., for plaintiff-appellee.

Before WRIGHT, KILKENNY and TRASK, Circuit Judges.

TRASK, Circuit Judge:

Adrian Wilson, Bernard Zeldin and James Ryan appeal their convictions in Federal District Court for the District of Nevada for violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1952, the so-called "Travel Act," 18 U.S.C. § 371, the federal conspiracy statute, and 18 U.S.C. § 2, the aiding and abetting statute. They make several assignments of error, relating to the jurisdiction of the court below, the legality of evidence gathered by wiretapping and electronic surveillance and the general conduct of the government in investigating and prosecuting this case. In connection with this last issue, appellants Zeldin and Wilson also argue that the government intentionally interfered with their attorney-client privilege. In addition, appellant Ryan alleges that the evidence was insufficient to support the verdict against him as a coconspirator, appellant Wilson argues that the trial judge erred in refusing certain jury instructions, and appellants Zeldin and Ryan challenge the constitutionality of the Travel Act. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm all appellants' convictions.

Each of the appellants filed an opening brief emphasizing facts as they apply to his particular case. Mindful of these individual variations we review the facts in their entirety, considering them in the light most favorable to the government, which is the appropriate standard for appellate review of judgments of conviction. Glasser v. United States, 315 U.S. 60, 80, 62 S.Ct. 457, 86 L.Ed. 680 (1942); United States v. Munns, 457 F.2d 271 (9th Cir. 1971).

The case revolves around the attempt of appellant Wilson, a well-known architect and resident of Los Angeles, to have certain land he owned in Nevada approved for rezoning and acts of bribery committed to achieve this purpose. The rezoning decision was to be made by the Clark County Board of Commissioners. The central figure in this episode was one Miro Mizera, an unindicted coconspirator, a Czechoslovakian refugee in ill health and a licensed realtor in the Las Vegas area.

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Mizera was interested in helping Wilson subdivide and sell his property. He visited Wilson in January 1972 in Los Angeles and told Wilson that rezoning could be accomplished only if a political contribution to the county commissioners were made. Mizera agreed to talk with Commissioner Ryan about this matter.

Mizera thereafter held a series of meetings with Ryan. At the first meeting, Ryan told Mizera that prospects for approval of the application were favorable. No discussion of a bribe or campaign contribution was made until the second meeting, when Mizera mentioned a $10,000 political contribution. After the Planning Commission, an advisory body, recommended rejecting the rezoning plan, Ryan told Mizera that he (Mizera) would have to approach the other four commissioners himself.

Mizera was given an unenthusiastic reception by Commissioners Leavitt, Brennan, Wiesner and Broadbent, although all of them at least indicated to Mizera that the prospects for eventual approval of the plan were good. After meeting with Mizera on April 24, 1972, Broadbent telephoned the state Attorney General and informed him that he thought Mizera had offered a bribe in exchange for his vote. Broadbent then agreed to cooperate with state authorities by "playing along" with Mizera and recording all conversations with him.

The following day, the Board of Commissioners voted to continue consideration of the application until May, when Wilson could more conveniently be in Nevada. Shortly thereafter, Mizera contacted a Las Vegas attorney, Morris, to inquire about the possibility of representing Wilson at the hearing. Exactly what terms were discussed between Morris and Mizera is subject to dispute, but it appears that Morris was informed of the bribery scheme. In any event, a retainer agreement between Morris and Wilson was consummated. Mizera then told Broadbent that Morris would be representing Wilson in the forthcoming commission meeting and detailed the scheme as it then stood. This conversation was recorded.

On April 27, Broadbent, acting through an intermediary, Reeves, told Morris that he was being led into a trap and that he should get out of the affair altogether. Morris then withdrew from the retainer agreement, returning the fee Wilson had paid him. This contact between Broadbent, who was serving as a government informer, and Morris gives rise to one of the issues on appeal.

Mizera continued to meet with Broadbent and Ryan in May. His purpose at this time was to have one of them take control of the bribery plot and work to ensure the votes of the other commissioners. In particular, Mizera wanted one of them to make the motion for rezoning at the meeting. On May 16, 1972, Broadbent, at the behest of state agents, told Mizera that he had to back out of the deal and would not be able to support the zoning application. There was no further contact between Mizera and Broadbent until after the Commission meeting.

Mizera was also in contact with appellant Zeldin during this time. Zeldin was a local businessman who was to take charge of the development of Wilson's land after approval of the rezoning plan. Zeldin went to Los Angeles to confer with Wilson concerning the bribery scheme and to obtain the bribery money which Wilson had borrowed from a Los Angeles bank. This interstate trip formed part of the basis for the indictment under 18 U.S.C. § 1952, the Travel Act.

After Broadbent withdrew from the plot, Mizera telephoned Zeldin, who was in Los Angeles, and the two discussed the problem of which commissioner would make the motion for approval of the application. This interstate conversation also formed part of the section 1952 indictment. The following day, May 17, 1972, Mizera met with Ryan and at this time Ryan said that he would make the motion. Thereafter, Mizera again telephoned Zeldin in Los Angeles.

On May 19, 1972, Mizera was approached by state agents and informed of the evidence they had amassed against him through his conversations with Broadbent.

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The state agents offered Mizera immunity from prosecution in return for his assistance. From that point forward, Mizera was a state agent whose conversations were recorded. The tactics of the government in obtaining Mizera's cooperation give rise to another important issue in this appeal.

The bribery scheme was discussed and recorded in a conversation between Ryan and Mizera that very evening. Mizera also met with Wilson, who had flown in from Los Angeles on May 21 for the commissioners' meeting the following day, at which time the distribution of the bribery money among the commissioners was discussed. This conversation was also recorded.

The commissioners met on May 22. Commissioner Ryan made the motion, and the zoning application was approved. Mizera, Wilson and Zeldin then caucused in a motel room and Mizera was given the money to distribute to the commissioners. State agents monitored this entire meeting through a transmitting device Mizera carried on his person. The following day, Mizera went to Ryan's home and gave him the bribery money, which Ryan accepted. Immediately thereafter, state agents, who had been hiding in the trunk of Mizera's car, arrested Ryan.


The first count of the indictment charged all appellants with conspiring to violate the Travel Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1952, 1 the second with violating the Travel Act and aiding and abetting therein, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 2. 2 In a case where jurisdiction depends upon the interstate nature of the criminal activity, as with section 1952, section 2 considerably eases the prosecutor's burden. Because of section 2, he does not have to show the interstate nature of each defendant's activity, but rather that the scheme as a whole had substantial interstate connections. If it did, he must then prove that each defendant aided or abetted the scheme to make out his violation of section 1952 against each defendant. It is for this reason that, in deciding the jurisdictional question, our primary focus is upon the scheme as a whole.

Appellants urge that the offenses committed here were matters of local concern; that there was no connection between the interstate travel and usage of interstate facilities and what they characterize as an "isolated local offense." Appellants argue that Rewis v. United States, 401 U.S. 808, 91 S.Ct. 1056, 28 L.Ed.2d 493 (1971), is dispositive of the question of jurisdiction and mandates a finding that the acts committed in this case do not come within the ambit of section 1952. In that case, petitioners conducted an illegal lottery in Florida, just south of the Georgia-Florida state line. Although there was no evidence that petitioners themselves crossed state lines in connection

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with the lottery, several of the patrons of the lottery did so. On these facts, the Court held section 1952...

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